Richard Mitchell became the all-time winningest pitcher in Morningside College baseball history when the Mustangs defeated Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) leader Northwestern College 1-0 in the second game to complete a doubleheader sweep of the Red Raiders on Friday in Sioux City.
The Mustangs, who won the first game 4-2 to end a seven-game Northwestern winning streak, extended their own winning streak to seven games to improve their record to 20-21-1, including a 14-10 mark in the GPAC for third place in the league standings.
Mitchell, a senior from Bakersfield, Calif., blanked the Red Raiders on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts over the first eight innings to improve his career record to 25-6 to break the former Morningside record of 24 career pitching triumphs first set by Heath Horsley, who compiled a 24-20 record from 2003-07.
The second game was a pitcher’s duel between Mitchell and the Red Raiders’ Victor Mena. Mitchell shut out Northwestern on four hits over the first eight innings before he turned the ball over the Mustang closer Elliott Conover, while Mena blanked the Mustangs on three hits over the first seven frames.
Morningside finally broke through against Mena in the bottom of the eighth inning after Mena created a problem for himself when he hit Derek Clayton with a pitch to start the inning. Clayton advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mersola and came home when Pierce doubled off the left field fence.
Conover struck out one batter and worked his way around a Morningside error to hold the Red Raiders scoreless in the top of the ninth for his ninth save of the season. Conover has allowed only one run over his last 12.1 innings for a sparkling 0.73 earned run average.
Mena pitched a complete game five-hitter for the Red Raiders. He walked two and struck out five.
The Mustangs’ hits were a double by Pierce and singles by Clayton, Nathan DeChaine, Sam Huska and Levi Davidson.
Northwestern took a 2-0 lead in the top of fourth inning of the opener, but the lead was short lived when the Mustangs answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame on a two-run home run by DeChaine, who went deep for the third game in a row. DeChaine, the Mustangs’ all-time home run king with a school-record 46 career circuit clouts, blasted a Mitchell Kresnik pitch over the right field wall with Dylan Mersola on board after the Mustangs’ shortstop had led off the inning with a single.
Morningside took the lead for good with a run in the fifth when Davidson led off with a single and came home on a clutch two-out single by Mersola.
The Mustangs received some more clutch two-out hitting when they tacked on an insurance run in the sixth when Andrew Kasperbauer delivered a two-out RBI single that plated Brandon McClintock, who was in the game as a pinch-runner for DeChaine after the Mustang slugger led off the inning with a walk.
Mersola and Davidson each had a pair of singles to account for four of the Mustangs’ nine hits against Kresnik, the Red Raiders’ ace, who saw his record drop to 6-2. The Mustangs’ other hits were a home run by DeChaine and singles by Kasperbauer, Huska, Pierce and Joe Genoways.
Thomas Johnson allowed one hit and struck out two of the three batters he faced in a two-third inning relief stint to pick up the victory. Conover struck out two of the three batters he faced while retiring the Red Raiders in order in the seventh inning for the save.
Mustang starter Cody Selig allowed two runs on five hits over the first 4.2 innings while pitching to a no-decision. Selig walked two and struck out eight.
Morningside and Northwestern will meet again on Saturday in a 2 p.m. doubleheader in Sioux City.